Demetriou, D. 2001. “Connell’s Concept of Hegemonic Masculinity: A Critique”

Demitriou, Demetrakis Z. 2001. “Connell’s Concept of Hegemonic Masculinity: A Critique.” Theory and Society 30 (3): 337-361.

Works to illuminate sex role framework which he argues is left untheorized, offers an alternative conceptualization of HM through Gramsci’s historic bloc and Bhabha’s hybridity. HM is not white, heterosexual, etc. but a hybrid bloc “unites practices from diverse masculinities in order to ensure the reproduction of patriarchy” (337).
Though Connell works to refute sex roles theory, he falls short in his initial conceptualization of it in an explanation of how sanctioning may/not work to punish “improper” role enactment; offers this as a point of individual will (structure collapses into agency – how we conceive of biological category of sex, sex differences)…

Offers terms of external hegemony (domination over women) and internal hegemony (domination over other men). Connell notes that gender regimes (structures of gender relations – market, state, family) offers an institutionalized privilege, which infiltrates social structure and personal life. Connell, Demetriou argues, does not clearly define or differentiate between the masculinities that he notes are “subordinated” versus merely “marginalized” – these seem to be negotiated through social locations aside from sexuality – these masculinities still benefit from HM’s execution through patriarchal dividend, and have complicit masculinities.

Women’s movement as a form of contestation of external hegemony, but does not thoroughly examine the other social movements that come with politics of contestation – prescribes a politics of alliances to dismantle HM, but doesn’t articulate how, etc. Critiques the self-creating notion of gender relations are in effect an outcome of gender relations. Patriarchy isn’t just the domination of women by men, but also isn’t just a complex structure where different masculinities and femininities interact with power – Connell focuses too much on external hegemony rather than the workings of internal hegemony. What is the relationship between internal and external hegemonies? Critiques the presumption (misread?) that hierarchy of masculinities sources from an ahistorical order, natural inferiority, inability to comply with other institutions – ex. Heteronormativity.

A la Gramsci, a historic bloc unites allies of those seeking hegemony, unifies conception of domination. Demetriou argues that Connell falls short in making a Gramscian analogy between hegemony, as to Gramsci, hegemonic processes are dialectical, mutually interactive between parties – to Connell, these marginalized masculinities have seemingly little effect on construction of hegemonic model. Gramsci notes that dominating class uses pragmatism to construct projects of domination, superfluidity is eliminated in hopes of an “equilibrium” – Connell notes that the “authorization” of subordinate masculinities can become oriented and useful for the maintenance of HM, but never infiltrated by it, reducing/eliminating pragmatic value. HM cast as raced, classed, sexually-oriented, located, oriented with certain values or interests. Internal hegemony is constructed in light of its relationship to external hegemony, and this is problematic. Masculine bloc, which is a hybridity of masculinities and masculine practices works to create a non-reified, non-dualistic interpretation of masculine power and practice. Masculine blocs, thus, are negotiated, rather than through a point of negating identities (348). Uses case study of gay liberation movements to point to masculine bloc. Incorporation of gay culture into mainstream as a means to legitimate and reproduce patriarchy; does not disturb HM, but works alongside it by selectively appropriating it – obfuscates the existence of patriarchy through blending “effeminate practices” with masculine power, evidencing hybridization.


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